Mentors

Talpha Harris
Building a Business Plan + Campus Connections

With over 5 years of entrepreneurial and business experience, Talpha is a patent-pending serial entrepreneur specializing in creating start-ups across multiple industries. She is the owner of Sustainable which assesses the viability of business plans and Ancient Path Adventures, a business that creates bible card and board games. Talpha is also currently managing the Entrepreneurship Hub at Bridgeway Capital, which encompasses accelerators, workshops and technical assistance. During her time at Carolina, Talpha served as a Program Assistant for the Shuford Program of Entrepreneurship, a Global Gap Year Fellow, a Nesiya Jewish Learning Fellow, and a Bryan Fellow. She was also a member of Honors Carolina, Carolina Women in STEM, the Sustainability Residential Learning Program, the BLUE Residential Learning Program, and the 1789 Venture Lab.

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Ellie Still
Investment Analyst at NTTVC

Ellie Still is an Investment Analyst at NTTVC, a $500M, returns-driven fund based in Silicon Valley. She helps source, analyze and screen potential investment opportunities in addition to supporting portfolio development to encourage business growth. Before joining NTTVC, Ellie was a Production Coordinator for IMG FOCUS., a division of Endeavor Group Holdings. Prior to IMG FOCUS., she worked for Endeavor’s IMG Models and IMG Fashion Events. Previously, Ellie completed summer internships at Tibi, Michaels Kors, and The RealReal in various operating roles in development, merchandising, brand licensing, and inventory management.

Ellie earned a Bachelor of Arts in Art History with a Minor in Entrepreneurship from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

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Ford Eubanks
Licensed Attorney and CPA

Ford practices in the areas of corporate law, venture capital and private equity financing, entrepreneurial law, and mergers & acquisitions. Ford is a triple Tar Heel, having received his B.A. in Economics, Master’s degree in Accounting, and J.D. with honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is a licensed attorney and CPA in the State of North Carolina. While in law school, Ford co-founded and was president of the Entrepreneurial Law Association, and helped form the University’s angel investment group, the Carolina Angel Network, serving as the first student diligence team leader. Prior to law school, Ford worked as a management consultant in the area of finance and organizational change for Fortune 500 and leading privately held companies across multiple industries, including healthcare, technology, consumer and industrial products, publishing and media, and energy production.

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Kimberly Yingling
Student Engagement and Events Manager at Innovate Carolina

Kimi joined the Innovate Carolina team in May 2017 after spending some time as the Graduate Student Services Specialist in the UNC Department of Communication. Her current role allows her to work with students and student clubs that have novel ideas and admirable passion. Additionally, Kimi runs a working group of staff from various departments and programs with the mission of building the innovative and entrepreneurial mindset and skillset of all UNC students. Before relocating to North Carolina, Kimi attended West Virginia University and received a master’s degree and license in Counseling. Originally from central Pennsylvania, Kimi attended Penn State University for a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. She remains a die-hard college sports fan, enjoys working out and often spends her evenings doing college access work with high school students at the Emily K Center in Durham.

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Mirah Alix
Metrics Dashboards and Visualizations

Mirah is a sociology graduate student at UNC with a passion for social enterprise and environmentally responsible business. She received her Bachelor’s in Sociology and Communications with a minor in Business from Vanderbilt University in 2018. Following graduation, she spent a year in the San Francisco Bay Area as a Category Specialist for Walmart eCommerce, managing pricing and inventory for a multi-million dollar product assortment while negotiating marketing partnerships with high profile vendors. She’s worked with Social Enterprise Alliance, building social media analytics dashboards and streamlining their membership leads pipeline. In other domains, Mirah is excited about systems-thinking and human-centered design, sparked by her volunteer project that developed a career-readiness curriculum for refugees in Nashville. She continues to get involved with refugee communities wherever she goes. Ultimately, Mirah knows that the road to success requires systematic organization and metrics tracking. She’s excited to help new ventures develop their list of Key Performance Indicators and build an efficient tracking system to optimize revenue growth and social/environmental impact.

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Jakelin Bonilla
Social Eship & Global Impact

Jakelin “Jaki” Bonilla graduated from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in May 2012 with a major in Global Studies and a minor in Entrepreneurship. At UNC, she founded Linking Immigrants to New Communities, which helps ease the transition of recent immigrants through student interaction and awareness-raising in the community, and worked as a Senior Intern in the Bonners Leaders Program at the Campus Y. After graduating from UNC she served as the director of the Campus Y’s Global Gap Year Fellowship for three years before she was awarded the Henry Luce Scholarship and worked at the United Nations Official Migration Agency-International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Thailand. Jakelin has recently returned to the Campus Y to continue supporting students’ social justice and social innovation initiatives.

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Jonathan Collins
Operations & Customer Experience

Jonathan Collins is a freelance business consultant specializing in restaurants and the food & beverage retail market.  He purchased his first restaurant, The Bagel Bar,  in 2012 after serving in various managerial roles both front of house and in the kitchen.  In 2016, he built a second Bagel Bar from the ground up in downtown Durham and has extensive knowledge of the process of opening a new brick and mortar business.  Jonathan sold both businesses in early 2019 and is eager to serve as a resource for those interested in getting into the retail food and beverage world.

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Trevor Scanlon
Pitching Practice

Trevor Scanlon (UNC class of 2019) works at MetLife as a Project Coordinator on their Complex Problems team where he helps to diagnose major MetLife application failures. During his time at Carolina, Trevor was very involved in innovation and emerging technology.  He was an android developer and helped pitch for a student-run start-up, worked as a developer in the Emerging Technologies Lab, and most recently he has started his own venture that uses VR experiences to help students perfect their pitch.

Trevor is excited to join the 1789 community and help the students and ventures with the early stage process (customer discovery, prototyping, iteration) and pitch practice. Feel free to send Trevor an email if you’d like to set up a time to meet and discuss anything innovation/startup related.  His office hours will be on Wednesday evening from 6-9 but he is happy to set up other times to meet with 1789 ventures!

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Liz Chen
Design Thinking

Liz is the design thinking lead on our Innovate Carolina team. In 2016, she was trained in human-centered design at the world renowned design firm IDEO in San Francisco. Through her training, she spent 18 months applying design thinking mindsets and methods to develop a technological solution to teen pregnancy. In 2017, she co-founded the tech nonprofit MyHealthEd, Inc. whose mission is to use human-centered design to improve the health and well-being of youth of every identity. Its first product Real Talk is a mobile app that uses real stories by real teens to convey relevant and credible information about health topics to teens and reassures them that they are not alone. Real Talk has reached more than 10,000 teens and has been featured in Fast Company and Teen Vogue. Liz was named to the 2018 Forbes 30 Under 30 class for Social Entrepreneurs and in May 2019, Liz served as the co-facilitator for the Chancellor’s Faculty Entrepreneurship Workshop at UNC-Chapel Hill that focused on design thinking.

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Nancy Lovas
Business Research and Information

Nancy Lovas is the Entrepreneurship Information Consultant/Librarian for UNC Chapel Hill. Are you searching for authoritative information to plan your business or research your market? Trying to navigate thousands of search results? Not sure where to find answers to your questions? Nancy will guide you to information sources for business research.

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Arden Rosenblatt
New Venture 101

Arden Rosenblatt is a Business Launch Specialist at the Small Business & Technology Development Center (SBTDC), committed to providing entrepreneurs guidance on startup strategy, planning and fundamentals. Prior to joining the SBTDC, Arden was CEO and co-founder of PieceMaker, an early pioneer in delivering personalized consumer products through 3D printing technology and interactive retail experiences. As CEO Arden raised over $1M, developing world’s first initiatives with major brands such as Toys”R”Us, Nickelodeon, Ford Motors and Estee Lauder. Arden is passionate about the intersection of people, technology and opportunity, with an expertise in translating great ideas into successful businesses.

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Patrick Kastian
Market & Competitive Research & Analysis

Patrick Kastian is an analyst at Innovate Carolina and has over seven years of experience in market research and business development across a wide range of industries. Whether you just started working on your idea, have already built your first prototype, or are ready to start marketing your product, Patrick can help guide you through the next steps in your startup process. Prior to joining UNC-Chapel Hill, Patrick worked for the German American Chamber of Commerce in San Francisco, where he managed market research, lead generation and competitive landscaping. Patrick holds a Bachelor of Arts in marketing and business administration from the University of Applied Sciences in Bremen, Germany and a Bachelor of Science in international business administration from UNC-Wilmington. Recent professional development activities include the Conference Board’s Innovation Master Class and UNC’s Presentation Skills course.

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Melissa Carrier
Social Innovation

Melissa Carrier is a professor of the practice in the Department of Public Policy and the director of the Office of Social Innovation at UNC-Chapel Hill. She is the founder and former executive director of the Center for Social Value Creation at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business.

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Matt Verber, Collin McKinney
Engineering Startup Consulting

Matt and Collin are both engineers with a wealth of experience and entrepreneurial backgrounds. Their combined expertise includes communication, medial devices, imaging, signal processing, analytical instrumentation, and state-of-the-art electronics. Whether you’re seeking information about design, prototyping, or manufacturing, Mat and Collin are your go-to resource for lounging your engineering start-up and achieving your commercialization goals.

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Niki Shamdasani
Story Telling For Maximum Impact

Niki Shamdasani (UNC c/o 2015) is the co-founder and CEO of Sani, a South Asian-inspired fashion brand. Before Sani, she was on the Program and Investments team of Matter, a startup accelerator and venture capital firm for early-stage media companies in San Francisco and New York. She has built several businesses from the ground up, including the university’s first official mobile app CarolinaGO, Matter’s New York program and office, and her current business. She was a Morehead-Cain scholar at UNC. Niki can provide guidance around storytelling for both your personal brand and/or your business for maximum impact. She can also help advise current or prospective startup founders.

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Dr. Jeff Terrell
Software Consulting

Dr. Terrell came to North Carolina and UNC in 2004 for grad school in the Computer Science Department, where he earned his Ph.D. in 2009. Although he had every intention of becoming  a professor, the university that extended a verbal offer later had to rescind it because of the economic recession. He made the first of several pivots and tried to commercialize his Ph.D. Research, which involved measuring the performance of computer servers across campus and looking for anomalies.

He joined his good friend Sir Robert Burbridge to found Altometrics, which focused on data  analytics and visualization. Despite several successes, the startup didn’t work out quite like he  hoped. In 2016, he got a job as a software craftsman at the nearby custom software shop Role Model Software. In 2018, he came back to the computer science department at UNC and became a Professor of the Practice, where he runs the App Lab to teach students how to build web and mobile applications through hands-on experience building  software for the UNC community.

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